Diabetes Training Camp, A Coach's Perspective, Part IV - A Little Better

Last year, my first year at Diabetes Training Camp, they added something new, courtesy of Rob Powell, a CDE who’s also an exercise physiologist. What they added was a series of tests so that one could benchmark their current ability in terms of aerobic endurance, flexibility and core strength.

Last year, I had confirmed my existence as a one-trick pony with a stellar performance in the 1.5 mile run, followed by outright failures in everything else. And I don’t mean poor performances, either. I mean, I failed to register on the charts for flexibility and core strength. I attribute this to the fact that at the time I was spending exactly zero time on flexibility and core strength. Funny how those tests work.

Going into the 1.5 mile run, I didn’t really have an interest in going all-out. Coming off a marathon three weeks prior, I knew where I was fitness-wise, and coming two days off a 20+ mile training run, I knew a peak performance was unlikely. I finished it in 9:27, good enough for VDot comp of 48, a little under the 51 or so I was last year but enough within shouting distance to not lose sleep over it.

After that, I repeated the core test and once again proved what I tell my teenagers nightly during the school year: that if you don’t study for a test, you likely won’t do well. I failed miserably.

I was curious, however, to repeat the flexibility test. Last year at DTC, I had been coming off a hundred mile race three months prior, and I recall coming into the test still feeling particularly robot-stiff, even for me. After I failed to attain even a minimal score, I became a pet project for many of the camp yogis and left with seriously designs about developing serious flexibility.

Rob Powell disagreed, telling me, “You’re a runner. Runners don’t change.”

And mostly he was right. Over the next year, I didn’t take a single yoga class and not once did I descend from my easy chair for thirty minutes of dynamic stretching or even static stretching. Truth be told, I still don’t know the difference between the two.

Still, the test did make a small difference in my life and if I didn’t carve out dedicated stretching routines, I at least tried to be more cognizant of stretching after most of my runs. No more than three or four stretches and no more than five minutes at most, which is why I was shocked that when I went into the flexibility test, I was able to at least register a score of 6.

I laughed in delight of this. While a 6 wouldn’t grant me Gumby-like status, surely this would vault me into the 10th percentile, I assumed. Powell looked at his tables for confirmation.

“Nope,” he said, failing to hide a small grin. “You need an extra inch to crack the bottom 10th percentile.” With the campers, Powell is kind to a fault. He saves all of his wonder at the imbalances of the human form entirely for me. I return the favor by pointing out endless accusations of his flawed test methodologies, based on my liberal arts degree and the years of experience I have obtained working in marketing.

The following day, I eked out that inch, and managed to hold my hamstrings together while I did it. Now I at least know that one in every ten men in America is less flexible than I. It’s a start.

And of course, that’s really the point of Powell’s torture tests; to allow you to see where you are, so that you have a place to build from. Whether the results are good or bad, they’re honest and give you a place to grow from.

Later in the week, I was treated to some new functional mobility tests. I didn’t fail them, outright. If I were a home and you were a potential buyer, the inspector would likely tell you I have charm and would provide your family with years of comfort and shelter. Still, you’d probably be warned that it might be wise to save up for a new furnace, because the existing one had seen better days, and had the potential to leave you high and dry on a cold, winter’s night.

So now I have that to think about when I’m doing my workouts, too.

As a coach, I also like to use the aerobic test to understand the baseline for the people I’m building programs for. One of this year’s campers had stated a goal of qualifying for Boston at a marathon in October. Training for a marathon is difficult and requires the proper plan and a healthy build. But, truth be told, it also takes some genetic ability and a reasonable fitness base. Powell’s test of our camper confirmed she has the right stuff; it’s just a matter of developing the right plan to utilize said stuff.

So to the few dozen men in America less flexible than I, I say, "There's hope for you." Not gymnast hope, mind you, but at least the hope that you might be able to extend beyond your kneecaps some day.


Popular posts from this blog

The gun in my basement.

Sh*t Diabetics Say

First Love